Friday, March 4, 2016

Green and Sustainable Technology

       Green technology is a "technology whose use is intended to mitigate or reverse the effects of human activity on the environment." (Google Dictionary) These devices can range to anything from building materials to cars to appliances. Green technology does not have to be complex and it is often the case that the most sustainable kinds of technologies are the ones that are simple everyday objects that are just made in a better way and with a better material. When thinking about how to make your life more sustainable, it might be an easy first step to start using green technology. 
       
       It seems like the majority of consumer products are made from synthetic materials these days and plastic has become the status quo for almost anything you buy. However, green materials are becoming ever more popular and inexpensive and have much less impact on the environment. They are often made from recycled materials or in some cases are biodegradable or compostable. The manufacturers who produce these goods perform a life cycle analysis on their products. This means taking into account the energy and resources used to make and distribute these items, as well as considering what happens to them after consumer use when they are discarded. This means replacing all plastic and Styrofoam with more eco-friendly materials such as recycled paper, wood, or glass, hemp, or PLA and starch based "plastics," which are not even plastic at all, but mimic it very well. More and more things are being made out of these materials as well, including many everyday objects that are necessities for life.
      Energy is one of the main focus of a lot of the green technology being created today. Ones that most people know about are energy efficient appliances that not only save you money, but also help the environment. Most appliances now have energy ratings too, which makes it that much easier for consumers to make the smart choice when buying. Energy Monitors or Smart Meters are another device one can use in any home to monitor and help reduce energy consumption. These devices hook onto the electrical line coming into your house and can wirelessly broadcast real-time energy use and help you create more efficient habits. Energy Monitors can be used in conjunction with Smart Power Strips, which can sense and cut off power to electronic devices that are fully charged or don't need power. This sort of unnecessary power use accounts for about 20% of the electricity wasted in the U.S.

       Another way to save money and reduce your carbon footprint is to employ some sort of alternative energy in your home. Solar panels and wind turbines are being made smaller and more efficient all the time and are now well suited for any home. Having an alternative energy source at your home requires an initial cost up front, but government subsidies are making them ever more inexpensive to purchase and install. These green technologies not only reduce the need for fossil fuel generated electricity, but also pay for themselves very quickly by greatly reducing the amount of electricity you have to buy.

       Next time you're making a purchase for anything from clothing to appliances, remember to look out for sustainably sourced materials and green technology that can reduce your impacts on the environment and even save you money.



-Zack


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